So I thought I’d start a series on some of my favourite authors and up there in pole position for me, is the wonderful David Mitchell. Now I need to get one thing clear, this isn’t the guy from Peep Show. It’s the other David Mitchell that I’m referring to.
What I love about Mitchell is he’s totally genre-less. He can do sci fi, historical, modern and sometimes all of those in one book. Some books are traditional cohesive stories and others are a collection of vignettes, held together by a story strand. Mitchell himself has said that his writing style is that of a lot of short stories as he wouldn’t have the attention span to write one full novel. Whatever the reason, it works brilliantly.
So here’s a quick tour of Mitchell’s back catalogue for the uninitiated
This is where it all begins and the first time we get to experience Mitchell’s obsession with South East Asia. You can tell this is his first book and whilst it’s enjoyable, there are better experiences further down the line.
Mitchell has taken this criticism on, saying “I guess I think of Ghostwritten as a badly ironed, slightly out of style shirt. But I think it’s a well-made shirt and I’m not ashamed to have it in my wardrobe”.
Mitchell gets into his groove for his second outing. Set in Japan, the novel follows the central character’s emergence into the world amid a search for his lost father. The title was inspired by a piece of music by John Lennon and one section of the book was made into a film starring Martin Freeman.
You will probably have heard of this one and, career wise, was when Mitchell hit the big time. The book won a ton of awards and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Later down the line a film was made starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
It is hard to do a synopsis of a Mitchell book because they are so complex, I’d love to see how he does it. There are six linked stories here that travel through time and then at the sixth reverse and we go backwards. Each one is linked somehow so we have a sort of story chain. Am I making any sense? You’ll just have to read it for yourself.
Black Swan Green
Three books in and we think we know what to expect from a David Mitchell novel. How wrong we were.
This is a traditional, semi-autobiographical novel showing thirteen months in the life of thirteen year old, Jason Taylor. It couldn’t be any more different than Cloud Atlas. It’s a sensitive portrayal of coming of age and is a real departure from his usual stuff.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
I couldn’t get on with this novel at all. Mitchell takes us back to the Far East but in the 18th Century and examines the trading market between Holland and Japan and what ensues is a cross cultural love story.
The book is beautifully written but I’m afraid I found it a bit of a chore.
The Bone Clocks
For me, this is the jewel in the crown. I loved this book so much. You just have no idea where it is going to go from a seemingly coming of age start in the same vein as Black Swan Green to an unbelievably huge and gripping finale. I would hate to give any spoilers away so I’m just going to say, read this book. It even has a companion novel, Slade House, that’s how grand it is.
So there you go, my appreciation of David Mitchell. He does have one more work completed but it won’t be published until 2114 and even though I’m on a healthy living kick these days, I don’t think I’ll see it. It was part of a time capsule project of sorts and is a tease to completionists like myself but I will wait with baited breath for the next project. In fact, I might read The Bones Clocks again.
Have you delved into the world of Mitchell? If so, let me know what you think in the comments below.